Sweet, savory, and delicious, this chili honey sesame chicken is a healthier take on the honey sesame chicken from your favorite restaurant. Baked, never fried and made without flour or cornstarch, it’s guaranteed to become a new family favorite with just one bite!
Skip the takeout this weekend, and opt for homemade honey chili chicken instead! Cooked in a single skillet and coated in a sticky sweet sauce, it’s way faster than ordering from your local restaurant and better for you, too!
Naturally gluten free, this crispy honey chicken is a high-protein dish you can feel good about. Serve it with all your favorite veggies and fluffy rice or cauliflower rice for a complete meal that will have even the pickiest of eaters begging for seconds.
Why You’ll Love This Recipe
- Made in a single skillet in less than 20 minutes
- A good source of protein
- Naturally gluten and dairy free and vegetarian friendly
- An excellent meal prep option to enjoy throughout the week
- Easily adjusted to suit your flavor preferences
Ingredients & Notes
- Chicken - I used chicken breasts for this recipe to keep the fat content lower. However, chicken thighs taste great, too and will be even more tender!
- Olive oil - Helps sear the chicken, locking in moisture and flavor while adding a boost of healthy fats. I prefer the strong flavor of olive oil, but coconut oil or avocado oil would work, too.
- Honey - A natural sweetener that balances out the sweet, savory flavors of the sauce, helping it cling to the chicken.
- Coconut aminos - Adds a teriyaki flavor without the need for soy sauce, but low-sodium soy sauce works well, too.
- Sweet chili sauce - Easily found in the Asian section of most grocery stores, this forms the base of the sauce, creating a bold, spicy taste. Use as little or as much as you’d like.
- Flavor enhancers - Garlic, chili powder, ginger, and sea salt are included for a bold, savory taste that takes this chili honey sesame chicken to the next level!
- Sesame seeds - Sprinkled on top for garnish, these make for a pretty presentation while contributing a bit of crunch and a slightly nutty flavor.
Can I Use Chicken Thigh?
Chicken thighs will also work in this crispy honey chicken recipe and will be more tender than chicken breasts. Use 1 lb of high-quality chicken thighs which usually equates to about 5 - 6 thighs. Also, make sure to cut the chicken thighs into similar-sized pieces. They won’t take as long to cook in the skillet so be sure to watch them closely to prevent overcooking them.
Can I use Tofu?
You can make this honey chili chicken recipe vegetarian by swapping the chicken with tofu. Cube the tofu, and sear it as directed with the olive oil. Then, prepare the sauce as directed, add the tofu, mix until well coated, and enjoy!
Step by Step Instructions
Once you learn how easy it is to make chili honey sesame chicken at home, you’ll never go back to restaurant or storebought options again! All you’ll need is a knife and cutting board, a large skillet or wok, and a bowl, and it will be ready in minutes!
Step 1: Prepare the chicken. Slice the chicken into evenly sized cubes, and cook them in a wok or skillet with oil over medium heat. Once golden brown on one side, flip the chicken pieces over, and allow them to continue to cook until it’s roughly 90% finished. Then, transfer it to a plate, and set it aside.
Step 2: Create the honey chili sauce. In a bowl, combine the ingredients for the sauce, whisking them together until smooth.
Step 3: Combine the ingredients. Wipe down the wok/skillet, and add the sauce, stirring until it begins to simmer. Add the chicken pieces, and toss to coat.
Continue to stir until the sauce begins to thicken and the chicken is cooked all the way through. Then, serve with your favorite sides, add a sprinkle of sesame seeds on top, and enjoy!
- Use a paper towel to pat the chicken dry before slicing it into cubes. This makes it less slippery and easier to handle.
- Cut the chicken into similar-sized pieces. This way the chicken pieces will all take the same amount of time to cook.
- Watch the temperature of the skillet. You want the chicken to cook almost all the way through at first without drying out the outer layer. You will notice the chicken beginning to golden around the edges which is what we want!
- Once the chicken is seared in the skillet and you have transferred it to a plate. Use a paper towel with some tongs to wipe up the excess juice and oil. Then, start cooking the sauce. This reduces the amount of cleanup needed, saving you precious time.
- The sauce will seem thin at first but will thicken up after a few minutes and over the heat. So, keep stirring it in the skillet until it becomes thick and sticky. It will effortlessly coat the chicken after a few minutes.
How to Serve Crispy Honey Chicken
The great thing about honey sesame chicken is that you really can’t go wrong with serving it up. Here are a few of my favorite ways:
- Serve it over a bed of white or brown rice or even quinoa.
- Cook some fresh vegetables like bell peppers, green beans, and onions, and make it a stir fry.
- Mix the chicken and extra sauce with ramen noodles for a super cozy meal in a bowl.
How to Store
Allow the chili honey sesame chicken to cool down completely, and store it in an airtight container. It will keep for up to 4 days in the fridge. When ready to enjoy, heat it up in the microwave in 20-second increments until warm.
Can I Prepare this Crispy Honey Chicken Ahead of Time?
The best way to cut down on some time is to prepare the sauce ahead of time in a bowl or jar and cut the chicken into pieces. However, cooking the meat should be done within an hour of when you want to serve the meal.
Frequently Asked Questions
A little of both! The spiciness can be adjusted depending on your preference. I use a sweet chili sauce in this recipe which is more sweet than spicy. Add as much or as little chili powder for the spiciness level you desire.
It depends on your definition of healthy. This recipe is made with fresh produce, simple ingredients, and naturally sweetened with honey and a little sweet chili sauce.
The chicken is the same, but the sauce is different. Honey chicken doesn’t have any orange flavoring whereas orange chicken has both orange juice and zest.
For more savory recipes, check out my:
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Chili Honey Sesame Chicken
- 1 lb chicken breast - cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 3 tablespoon coconut aminos - or low sodium soy sauce
- 2 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon chili powder - or red pepper flakes, optional
- ½ teaspoon ginger
- ⅛ teaspoon sea salt - omit if using soy sauce
- 1 tablespoon sesame seeds - to garnish
- Cut the chicken breasts into 1 inch cubes. Heat a skillet or wok on the stove over medium heat with the olive oil. Carefully place the chicken in the skillet, leaving some room in between each piece. Let the chicken cook until golden, about 3 - 5 minutes, then gently flip each piece over and allow it to cook on the other side for another 2 - 3 minutes until it’s about 90% cooked through (it will go back on the skillet later to cook all the way through). You want the chicken to have a little bit of crispiness around the edges but not too much or you risk drying it out. Transfer the chicken to a plate and set aside.
- Stir together the honey, coconut aminos, sweet chili sauce, garlic, chili powder, ginger, and sea salt in a bowl or jar.
- Carefully wipe down the skillet the chicken was cooked in with a towel. Pour the honey chili sauce back into the skillet and heat over medium heat. Stir until the mixture begins to simmer. Add the chicken pieces to the skillet and toss to coat it with the sauce. (If you’re cooking veggies too, this is a great time to put them on the stove. See notes for how I cook my broccoli).
- Continue to stir the chicken in the skillet until the sauce thickens up, about 2 - 3 minutes.
- Serve the chicken with some rice and veggies of your choice. Sprinkle the chicken with sesame seeds and enjoy!